Becoming Catholic


The Catholic Church warmly extends an invitation to anyone, old and young, who would like to become a part of our church.   Current estimates say that there are 1.2 billion Catholics in the world! We hope that this says something about the life and vitality of the Catholic way of living as we strive to be good disciples of Jesus and servants of the Gospel.

But becoming Catholic is not just about joining something large and world-wide… it is also personal and intimate.  To become Catholic means that you are choosing to live your life as an active disciple of Jesus in the Catholic Christian tradition.  Our tradition is rich in prayer and community, in service and outreach, in word and action.  To become Catholic means to commit yourself to love God and your neighbor in concrete and specific ways.

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming Catholic, or at least exploring what that would mean, the first step is to contact the local Catholic church.   Every Catholic church, has a process called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) which is the way that we prepare and welcome new members.   The RCIA is based on the way that new members were welcomed into the early Church in the 3rd and 4th centuries.  It is a time tested way to help people experience our Catholic way of life to see if this is where God is calling them.  We hope that it is and we invite you to come and see.

There are five steps in the RCIA Process:

  1. Inquiry (or Precatechumenate) – This is the time for asking questions and looking at the larger issues of faith.
  2. Catechumenate – This is an “apprenticeship” time when you experience the life and action of our community.
  3. Enlightenment & Purification – This is the season of Lent: a 40 day period of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
  4. Initiation – Every year, on the night before Easter, we welcome new members in Baptism, Confirmation & Eucharist.
  5. Mystagogia – This is a period of transition and full integration into the community and it’s life.

So, how does this work at Sacred Heart?

The Inquiry
Every fall, winter and spring, Sacred Heart offers a series that we call “Inquiry” which are for anyone who would like to know more about what we believe as Catholics.  This is the place to bring any questions you might have about the Catholic Church and also to explore the core teachings of our Faith.  Classes are held in the evenings, usually Wednesday nights, for about 5 weeks in a row.
Class topics will include:

  • A Catholic Vision.  What does it mean to be a Catholic Christian.
  • Jesus: at the heart of Christianity is a person!  What if God was one of us?
  • The God whom our hearts seek.  What do we understand about the mystery of God.
  • A Catholic Approach to the Scriptures: alive… inspired… and written for you!
  • The Seven Sacraments: God in Action!

At the end of these classes,  if you are interested in becoming Catholic you join our Catechumenate process which meets on Sunday mornings during and after the 10am Mass.

The Catechumenate
In the Catechumenate, we join the 10AM Mass every Sunday.  After the homily, the Catechumens are called forward and dismissed by Father Davis.  They go to a separate room where they continue to reflect on the Gospel reading for that day.  The process of reflection we use is called the Lectio Divina, which is an ancient form of Scriptural prayer.

At the end of Mass, the catechumens go to class to explore the Catholic teachings (dogma and doctrine) that are tied to the Scripture readings of that weekend.  The focus of each class is to explore the various ways that we are called to live out the Gospel in the world today.  Some Sundays, rather than have a class, they join the rest of our parish in different events and activities. The goal of the Catechumenateis to provide the experience and knowledge needed to be fully active, participating members as well as life-long believers.

The Enlightenment & Purification (Lent)

After they have been in the Catechumenate long enough to learn what they need to know (for adults who are unbaptized, this can be as long as a year) they are welcomed into our Church.

If a person has already been baptized in a Christian denomination, they can be welcomed into our Church at any time of the year (except during Lent).  When a person is welcomed depends on when they (and we) feel they ready and able to live out an active Catholic faith.

If a person is unbaptized, then they can only be welcomed at the Easter Vigil (the Saturday night before Easter).  The Season of Lent is the forty days before Easter.  Beginning on Ash Wednesday and continuing for 40 days, those preparing to become Catholics will join with all the rest of our church in spending time in prayer, in fasting and in sharing our resources with others in need.  In both public and private ways, we each seek to cast out those things that keep us from truly being the man or woman that God wants us to be.  Lent is a time for us to recommit ourselves to truly be God’s people.

Initiation   
Then, on the night before Easter, we hold the Easter Vigil which is our first and greatest celebration of the Resurrection of Our Lord.  At this liturgy, we will welcome all new members through Baptism, Confirmation (an anointing with oil as a seal of the Holy Spirit) and reception of the Most Holy Eucharist (the bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation).

Mystagogia
This is the period of welcome and integration and the new members of our church begin their life in full participation and sharing in our community and life of faith.  Now one with us, we share all that we have and involve them in the full riches of our community.

If you have any questions about this process or if you would like to join us,
please contact Mathew at 360-825-3759 x303 or email me at mathew@sacredheartenumclaw.org